nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2011‒08‒09
thirteen papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. The Present and Future of Game Theory By Martin Shubik
  2. What would Hume make of our Current Theories and our Current Economic Predicament? And what should we make of his views on government debt? By Peter Sinclair (University of Birmingham)
  3. Os mecanismos de funcionamento do “Padrão Ouro”: uma visão crítica By Cláudio Gontijo
  4. On the existence of Berge's strong equilibrium By Messaoud Deghdak; Monique Florenzano
  5. G. Th. Guilbaud et la théorie du choix social. By Bernard Monjardet
  6. L'économie du bien-être est morte. Vive l' économie du bien-être ! By Antoinette Baujard - Université of Caen Basse-Normandie - CREM-CNRS
  7. The Strategic Use of Ambiguity By Frank Riedel; Linda Sass
  8. Considerateness By Edna Ullmann-Margalit
  9. O conceito de produção na contabilidade social: uma contribuição crítica By Cláudio Gontijo
  10. Explaining the harmonic sequence paradox By Ulrich Schmidt; Alexander Zimper
  11. The fiscal theory of the price level and the backing theory of money By Sproul, Michael
  12. Marginal tax rates, tax revenues and inequality. Reagan’s fiscal policy By Elena Briata
  13. A “nova dialética” de Christopher Arthur e O capital de Karl Marx: uma análise crítica By Cláudio Gontijo

  1. By: Martin Shubik
    Date: 2011–07–31
  2. By: Peter Sinclair (University of Birmingham)
    Abstract: In his essay on public credit, Hume advances two arguments in favour of government borrowing and five against. It is interesting to cast his various arguments and claims in terms of modern models, or their variants, to see how they might be formalized - and thus potentially supported, or qualified, or contradicted. Some of Hume's observations seem somewhat mistaken in the light of later and recent experience, while others appear uncannily prescient.
    Date: 2011–08–04
  3. By: Cláudio Gontijo (FACE/UFMG)
    Abstract: This article analyses the working of the gold standard, pointing out the inconsistencies of the traditional view, based on Hume’s specie flow-price mechanism, which ignores Adam Smith’s “law of reflux”, and the properties of a commodity-money regime. Avoiding the aprioristic and excessively stylized character of the majority of analyses, it discusses the adjustment mechanisms based on real economic history, which makes the issue more understandable as well as more concrete and less disconnected from reality, which is difficult to explain from an orthodox perspective, as recognized by many authors.
    Keywords: gold standard; Hume’s specie flow-price mechanism; balance of payment adjustment
    JEL: F41 N1
    Date: 2011–08
  4. By: Messaoud Deghdak (Laboratoire de Mathématiques Appliquées et Modélisation - Département de Mathématiques); Monique Florenzano (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I)
    Abstract: In this paper, we establish the existence of Berge's strong equilibrium for games with n persons in infinite dimensional strategy spaces in the case where the payoff function of each player is quasi-concave. Moreover, we study the continuity of Berge's strong equilibrium correspondence and prove that most of Berge's strong games are essential.
    Keywords: Nash equilibrium, strong Berge equilibrium, fixed point, essential games.
    Date: 2011–07
  5. By: Bernard Monjardet (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne et CAMS-EHESS)
    Abstract: One year after the publication of Arrow's 1951 book Social Choice and Individual Values, Guilbaud (1912-2006) published in Économie Appliquée a 50 page's paper entitled Les théories de l'intérêt général et le problème logique de l'agrégation. In this paper -unfortunately too little known- first he dragged from a deep oblivion Condorcet's Essai sur l'application de l'analyse à la probabilité des décisions rendues à la pluralité des voix and showed its interest. Then, he brought significant contributions doing of him a precursor of several futher developments of social choice theory. I present here these contributions and how they have been precursory.
    Keywords: Acyclic domain, Arrow's theorem, distributive lattice, judgment aggregation, simple game, social choice, ultrafilter.
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2011–07
  6. By: Antoinette Baujard - Université of Caen Basse-Normandie - CREM-CNRS
    Abstract: L'économie du bien-être a beaucoup évolué au cours du XXième siècle, jusqu'à entrer, disent certains, dans une impasse qui lui est fatale. Les controverses sur la possibilité et la pertinence des comparaisons interpersonnelles de bien-être sont réputées permettre d'expliquer cette évolution. Nous opposons à cette lecture standard une autre explication, essentiellement épistémologique et liée aux interprétations plus ou moins opérationnalles de l'utilité. Des conséquences importantes découlent de cette option, notamment quant au rôle de l'économie du bien-être dans l'action publique.
    Keywords: Economie du bien-être ; Comparaisons interpersonnelles d'utilité ; histoire de l'économie normative / Welfare economics ; Interpersonal comparisons of utilities ; History of normative economics
    JEL: A13 B2 D6
    Date: 2011–06
  7. By: Frank Riedel (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University); Linda Sass (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University)
    Abstract: Ambiguity can be used as a strategic device in some situations. To demonstrate this, we propose and study a framework for normal form games where players can use Knightian uncertainty strategically. In such Ellsberg games, players may use Ellsberg urns in addition to the standard objective mixed strategies. We assume that players are ambiguity-averse in the sense of Gilboa and Schmeidler. While classical Nash equilibria remain equilibria in the new game, there arise new Ellsberg equilibria that can be quite different from Nash equilibria. A negotiation game with three players illustrates this finding. Another class of examples shows the use of ambiguity in mediation. We also highlight some conceptually interesting properties of Ellsberg equilibria in two person games with conflicting interests.
    Date: 2011–08
  8. By: Edna Ullmann-Margalit
    Abstract: A stranger entering the store ahead of you may hold the door open so it does not slam in your face, or your daughter may tidy up the kitchen when she realizes that you are very tired: both act out of considerateness. In acting considerately one takes others into consideration. The considerate act aims at contributing to the wellbeing of somebody else at a low cost to oneself. Focusing on the extreme poles of the spectrum of human relationships, I argue that considerateness is the foundation upon which our relationships are to be organized in both the thin, anonymous context of the public space and the thick, intimate context of the family. The first part of the paper, sections I–III, explores the idea that considerateness is the minimum that we owe to one another in the public space. By acting considerately toward strangers we show respect to that which we share as people, namely, to our common humanity. The second part, sections IV–VIII, explores the idea that the family is constituted on a foundation of considerateness. Referring to the particular distribution of domestic burdens and benefits adopted by each family as its “family deal,” I argue that the considerate family deal embodies a distinct, family-oriented notion of fairness. The third part, sections IX–XV, takes up the notion of family fairness, contrasting it with justice. In particular I take issue with Susan Okin's notion of the just family. Driving a wedge between justice and fairness, I propose an idea of family fairness that is partial and sympathetic rather than impartial and empathic, particular and internal rather than generalizable, and based on ongoing comparisons of preferences among family members. I conclude by characterizing the good family as the not-unjust family that is considerate and fair.
    Date: 2011–07
  9. By: Cláudio Gontijo (FACE/UFMG)
    Abstract: This article discusses the theoretical foundations of the concept of production of ONU’s National Accounting System, demonstrating that it is constructed upon ad hoc formulations. To start with, the distinction between intermediate consumption and workers’ consumption at the working site seems arbitrary. Second, because public goods are not marketable, their inclusion in the productive sphere seems inconsistent. Third, considering commerce as a productive activity implies difficulties, such as identifying its product and its utility to consumers. In addition, it seems problematic to explain the origins of the gains of exchange, which requires the pre classical theory of profits of alienation, considered unacceptable even by neoclassical authors. Finally, neither the definition of financial intermediaries and real estate “services”, nor their revenues seem to be acceptable, since from a neoclassical perspective interests and ground rent are derived from joint production of labor, capital and land.
    Keywords: National Accounting; productive and unproductive labor; production boundaries
    JEL: E01 B4
    Date: 2011–08
  10. By: Ulrich Schmidt; Alexander Zimper
    Abstract: According to the harmonic sequence paradox (Blavatskyy 2006), an expected utility decision maker's willingness-to-pay for a gamble whose expected payoffs evolve according to the harmonic series is finite if and only if his marginal utility of additional income becomes zero for rather low payoff levels. Since the assumption of zero marginal utility is implausible for finite payoffs levels, expected utility theory—as well as its standard generalizations such as cumulative prospect theory—are apparently unable to explain a finite willingness-to-pay. The present paper presents first an experimental study of the harmonic sequence paradox. Additionally, it demonstrates that the theoretical argument of the harmonic sequence paradox only applies to time-patient decision makers whereas the paradox is easily avoided if time-impatience is introduced
    Keywords: St. Petersburg Paradox, Expected Utility, Time-Preferences
    JEL: C91 D81
    Date: 2011–08
  11. By: Sproul, Michael
    Abstract: A numerical example of privately issued money is used to illustrate the fiscal theory of the price level, and to show that the fiscal theory is best understood as a subset of the backing theory of money. Government issuance of money or debt is shown to be potentially inflationary only when the government’s net worth is negative, and when the government’s assets do not rise in step with its liabilities. The backing theory is used to examine whether inflation can be avoided by a sufficiently tough central bank, and to criticize the view that fiscal policies affect inflation through their wealth effects.
    Keywords: Money; price level; fiscal; real bills; backing theory
    JEL: E50
    Date: 2011–07
  12. By: Elena Briata
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of Reagan’s fiscal Reform. It mainly involves an investigation of the legislative features of the Reform and of the underpinning economical theory. The study focuses on the impact of such a Reform on the economy. The paper comprises four main parts. The first part is devoted to the analysis of both Reagan’s fiscal policy actions in the 1980s and of the regulatory touch. In particular the first part investigates two main Laws, which reduced private marginal tax rates: the Economic Recovery Tax Act (1981) and the Tax Reform Act (1986). The second part introduces and analyses the so-called “Supply-Side Economics”, the main theory on which Reagan's Reform is based. Indeed the core of “Supply-Side Economics” was the “Laffer Curve” where tax rate cuts played a central role. The last two parts deal with the concrete effects of private marginal tax rate cuts. In particular, inequality and fiscal revenue. It also focuses on the criticisms against the Reform. Fiscal revenue is observed in a wider context. The paper first investigates the source of the deficits recorded during the 1980s. It relates these deficits to general government revenues and general government expenditures. Subsequently, general government revenues are broken down into their parts and the development of federal income tax revenue is carefully observed. Inequality is investigated through the Gini index. The paper touches briefly on the changes to the Gini index after Reagan’s two main fiscal Laws took effect. Furthermore, inequality is related to the progression of the tax system and then calculated through the Reynolds-Smolensky Index.
    Keywords: Reagan’s fiscal policy, supply-side economics, revenue, inequality
    JEL: H24 E62 N42
    Date: 2011–07
  13. By: Cláudio Gontijo (FACE/UFMG)
    Abstract: This article critically examines Christopher Arthur’s “New Dialectic”, showing its analytical and formal character, which works through the addition of determinations, making necessary to “reconstruct” Marx’s Capital. With the abandonment of the universal concrete, the unfolding of its inner contradictions, losing its features as necessary and systematic, no longer generates the totality. As a result, the totality, besides an a-systematic construction, loses its self-demonstrated fundamentals, as a circle that conditions its own history as the necessary unfolding of its constitution. It becomes, thus, an arbitrary construction, a product of chance.
    Keywords: new dialectic; Hegelian dialectic; Marxian dialectic; historical materialism
    JEL: B4 B51
    Date: 2011–08

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